Seth Abramson @SethAbramson @Newsweek columnist. Analyses @BBC. NYT bestselling author of Proof of Conspiracy ( Next: Citizen Journalist (Macmillan). Professor. Attorney. Jun. 28, 2019 2 min read

Biden's reply to Harris was as damning for the lack of judgment it showed as for its content. He had ample time to prepare for the encounter, got good advice on how to handle it, had a chance to read the room and react dynamically as it happened—and he just plowed stupidly ahead.

1/ Biden must show that though he's roughly Trump's age, he's substantially less pigheaded and arrogant. I don't know how his advisers haven't gotten through to him that a top challenge is to present himself as dynamic, adaptable, humble, and a lifelong learner⁠—even at his age.

2/ The Democratic Party of 2019 is almost nothing like the Democratic Party of even fifteen years ago, and what holds true for Biden holds true for all the Democratic candidates: if you don't understand the party you're running to lead, you're just not going to end up leading it.

3/ The 2016 Democratic primary wasn't decided along racial lines, per the data. It was decided by older voters voting in substantially larger numbers than younger ones, and older black voters overwhelmingly favoring Clinton even as the youngest voters of all races backed Sanders.

4/ A fear with Biden is that he's counting on the same voter-age primary dynamics Clinton did, including among older black voters, and that even if this were to help him win the Democratic primary, it wouldn't *necessarily* mean he was the most electable Democrat for the general.

5/ My point is, even if Biden knew he had a substantial enough coalition among older voters to win the primary, he should be starting to think (right now) about how or why he's not appealing to *younger voters* in the same way.

That would suggest a *true* seriousness of purpose.

6/ And the best way to show you're thinking about younger voters and therefore not just about the present challenge but the future of the nation is to show you understand both where the Party is now *and* where it's heading. That test of humility is the biggest test Biden failed.

7/ I say all this as someone who generally likes and admires Biden, by the way. I have enormous respect for him, and no matter what happens in the Democratic primary, I certainly hope he is an influential Democratic elder for the rest of his life. This critique is made with love.

You can follow @SethAbramson.


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